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Ours Was the Shining Future

Hardcover / ISBN-13: 9781529435429

Price: £30

ON SALE: 24th October 2023

Genre: Humanities / History / Regional & National History / History Of The Americas

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‘An important book’ Martin Wolf, Financial Times (BOOK OF THE YEAR)

The clear-eyed, definitive history of the modern American economy and the decline of the American Dream, from the Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist behind The New York Times’s “The Morning” newsletter.

Two decades into the twenty-first century, the stagnation of living standards has become the defining trend of American life. Life expectancy has declined, economic inequality has soared, and, after some progress, the Black-white wage gap is once again as large as it was in the 1950s. How did this happen in the world’s most powerful country? And what happened to the “American dream”-the promise of a happier, healthier, more prosperous future-which was once such an inextricable part of our national identity?

Drawing on decades of writing about the economy for The New York Times, Pulitzer Prize-winning writer David Leonhardt examines the past century of American history, from the Great Depression to today’s Great Stagnation, in search of an answer.

To make sense of the rise and subsequent fall of the American dream, Leonhardt tells the story of the modern American economy as an ongoing battle between two competing forms of capitalism: one that envisions prosperity for most, and one that serves the individual and favors the wealthy. In vivid prose, Ours Was the Shining Future traces how democratic capitalism flourished to make the American dream possible, until the latter decades of the twentieth century when, bit by bit, the dream was corrupted to serve only the privileged few.

Ours Was the Shining Future is a sweeping narrative full of innovation and grit, human drama and hope. Featuring the trailblazing figures who helped shape the American dream-Frances Perkins, Paul Hoffman, Cesar Chavez, Robert Kennedy, A. Philip Randolph, Grace Hopper, and more-this engaging history reveals the power of grassroots democratic movements from across the political spectrum. And though the American dream feels lost to us now, Leonhardt shows how Americans-if they commit themselves to transforming the economy, as they did in the past-have the power to revive the dream once more


David Leonhardt is the rare journalist who brilliantly combines a rich "on the ground" understanding of American politics and culture with a command of the latest evidence from economics and social science. Blending these perspectives, his new book gives a sweeping view of how the American Dream of upward mobility faded over the past half century and what we can do to restore it - from changing political power structures to cultural transformation to high-payoff government investments. If you want to build a better future for our children, you will find inspiration in Ours Was the Shining Future.
Raj Chetty, William A. Ackman Professor of Public Economics, Harvard University
An important book
Martin Wolf, Financial Times, Book of the Year